The Inland Rail Conference 2018 has identified the challenges and opportunities presented by the project.
Around 400 people attended the two-day event presented by the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) in Parkes NSW to examine the Inland Rail project from a variety of perspectives.
The conference helped clarify priorities for business, governments and local communities and set out what needs to be done next to ensure the significant public investment into the project delivers the benefits of supply chain efficiency, safety, export competitiveness, employment and regional development.
One of the key action priorities that emerged was to ensure the Melbourne-Brisbane transit time of under 24 hours is adhered to.
Similarly, securing cooperation and active involvement of the Victorian, NSW and Queensland state governments to construct the project was a priority.
Dealing with last mile issues through planning and construction links to the Port of Brisbane and the Port of Melbourne, as well as ensuring efficient rail linkages to key ports in NSW was outlined to be an important challenge to overcome.
Equipping the current and emerging workforce with the skills needed to construct, maintain and operate the inland rail was considered an imperative given Australia’s infrastructure boom and ageing workforce.
The conference found local communities, including councils, schools and other relevant bodies, need to be able to take advantage of the opportunities the project presents.
In order to drive innovation for the project, it was recommended to partner with the private sector to push further direct and indirect investment along the route.
The Inland Rail also should demonstrate the necessity of the project by highlighting negative consequences for Australia’s supply chain efficacy, traffic congestion, passenger rail services and road safety.
Data frameworks were also highlighted as key to enhance freight visibility and demonstrate the viability of the project.
The Inland rail project will form a central part of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, currently being developed by the Federal Government.
Following the success of the event, ALC and ARA are now exploring opportunities to stage the next Inland Rail Conference in Toowoomba in mid-2019.